Afrophobia not in SA, Nigeria's vision for Africa – Nigerian foreign minister

2017-03-13 18:43
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane bids the Nigerian delegation farewell. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane bids the Nigerian delegation farewell. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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Tshwane - South Africa and Nigeria have resolved to establish an early warning system in response to xenophobic attacks and to strengthen relations between the two nations.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and her Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama held a bilateral meeting on Monday. This follows a wave of xenophobic violence in SA in February.

The meeting was attended by several officials from both countries, including Nigeria's interior minister and South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Ten houses were torched in Rosettenville by angry residents who claimed the homes were being used by Nigerians for drug dealing and prostitution. Several Pretoria homes were raided by community members for similar reasons.

"For some time now, there have been these incidents of attacks and Nigerians have been victims," said Onyeama.

He added that his government knew that violence aimed at Nigerian nationals in SA was not state sponsored.

'Dynamic' South Africa

"We know that the South African government has always condemned this, that the South African people have condemned this. It was the action of a small criminal minority," he continued.

"We also recognise that not all the Nigerians in SA engage in lawful activity, but the vast majority are," said Onyeama.

He said the vast majority of Nigerian citizens in SA contributed toward creating a dynamic SA and felt at home in the country.

SA and Nigeria's vision for the early warning mechanism would be aimed at preventing future attacks and creating steps for both governments to respond quickly to similar attacks.

"This way the issue remains on the front burner and whatever preventative action, or measures required, can be done quickly," said the Nigerian foreign affairs minister.

He said the unit, which would meet quarterly, should include officials from foreign affairs in both countries, the department of home affairs, police and immigration services.

In SA the unit would include the Nigerian Union of SA, while in Nigeria an invitation would be extended to the South African business community for a representative to join the project, Onyeama said.

Bomb threats dismissed

Onyeama said SA had given assurances that the security and rights of Nigerian nationals would be looked after in the country. He also made a similar pledge on Nigeria's behalf, dismissing bomb threats by a Niger Delta group against South African businesses in the country.

"We need to reassure South African businesses in Nigeria and Nigerians here in South Africa that their governments are fully determined to ensure their security and respect of their rights," he added.

Nkoana-Mashabane described the meeting as successful and said it was characterised by "the usual friendliness".

She said the meeting was held to make the position of the South African government on the recent attacks clear to the Nigerian government.

"The president, the government and the people of South Africa reaffirmed what is in our Constitution: To fight against all forms of discrimination based on race, religion, sex or creed including Afrophobia," she said.

The minister said 34 memorandums of understanding between the two countries had been signed and still needed to be implemented.

Speaking on the side-lines, Gigaba said the approach adopted by the two countries on the issue was a sign of political maturity.

Read more on:    maite nkoana-mashabane  |  malusi gigaba  |  xenophobia

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